Parliament Speaker Kakha Kuchava resigns
Parliament Speaker Kakha Kuchava stepped down from his post, Georgian Dream Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze announced on Friday. The Education, Science and Culture Committee Chair, MP Shalva Papuashvili, will be nominated as the new speaker of the state legislature.
Giorgi Amilakhvari, first deputy of the Education, Science and Culture Committee, will replace Sh. Papuashvili, I. Kobakhidze noted. GD Chair also said that MPs Anri Okhanashvili and Irakli Chikovani would join the party’s political council.
"A sitting of the party's political council was held today, where several important personnel issues were discussed. Kakha Kuchava, the Speaker of the Parliament, made a decision to resign. Kakha himself will explain the reason for the decision. On behalf of the Georgian Dream political team, I thank him for his proper service as the Speaker of the Parliament during very difficult period. Kakha's decision is, of course, disappointing for the whole team, but we respect this decision. Therefore, the decision was taken into account by the party's political council. Kakha will remain one of the leaders of our political team, a member of the party's political council, and he will work on a state-important project, about which we will share detailed information later. According to the decision of the political council of the party and the parliamentary majority, Shalva Papuashvili will be nominated for the position of the Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia. Shalva does not need a special presentation. I remind you that he is a doctor of law, he has defended his dissertation in Germany. For years he worked in international organizations, as a professor at universities. To date, Shalva has been a successful chair of the Education and Science Committee," said I. Kobakhidze.
Council Presidency and European Parliament provisionally agree not to accept Russian travel documents issued in occupied Ukraine and Georgia
On 10 November, the Council Presidency and the European Parliament reached a preliminary agreement on a decision not to accept Russian travel documents issued in Ukraine and Georgia. The agreed text is subject to approval by the Council and the European Parliament before formal adoption.
This decision is a response to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine and its practice of issuing Russian passports to residents of the occupied regions. It also follows Russia’s unilateral decision to recognise the independence of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008.
Russian travel documents issued in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine or the breakaway territories of Georgia, as well as to persons residing in these regions, will not be accepted as valid travel documents for obtaining visas or crossing Schengen borders.
Russian travel documents issued in these regions are no longer recognised or are in the process of non-recognition by the EU Member States. This decision is therefore aimed at developing a common EU approach and ensuring the proper functioning of the external border.
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PARLIAMENT ENDORSING BILL ON DEOLIGARCHIZATION IN I READING
The Parliament endorsed the Bill on Deoligarchization in I reading with 80 to 9 votes. The document has been elaborated in compliance with EC’s 12 recommendations proposed for Georgia.
The following matters are governed by the proposed law: The definition of the term "oligarch"; the issues of identifying someone as an oligarch and having them entered into the appropriate register; the issues of having someone removed from the register of oligarchs and the production of that register; the legal repercussions of doing so; the issues of certain people having to fill out declarations regarding their contact with the oligarch and their representative.
According to the document, an oligarch is a natural person who simultaneously satisfies at least three of the following conditions in order to have significant economic and political influence in public life: participates in political life; has a significant influence on mass media; is an ultimate beneficiary of the entrepreneurial legal entity, which occupies a dominant position in the market and which maintains or exercises this position for 1 year; the confirmed amount of his assets and those of entrepreneurial legal entities where he is a beneficiary, as of January 1 of the relevant year, exceeds 1,000,000 times the subsistence minimum established for able-bodied persons.
The Parliament of Georgia makes a decision on recognition of a person with significant economic and political weight in public life (oligarch).
SPEECH OF SPEAKER SHALVA PAPUASHVILI AT FIRST PARLIAMENTARY SUMMIT OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMEA PLATFORM
Speech of Speaker Shalva Papuashvili at First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform
Zagreb, 25 October 2022
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I am glad, even if with heavy heart, to speak to you at the first Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform among like-minded friends and partners of Ukraine in the period of the most difficult security challenges of modern times.
On February 24, the Ukrainian people woke up under the rain of rockets. This may have caught many people in the West by surprise. But unfortunately, we, Georgians, Moldovans, Ukrainians, have known this all too well for many years now. Georgian people experienced this ruthless invasion in 2008, which is well known, but also in the early 1990s in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region.
We have seen Russian tanks raiding Georgian villages and Russian airplanes bombing our hopes for the better future. We have witnessed hundreds of thousands of people expelled from the homes of their ancestors, escaping the massacre and ethnic cleansing, and finding shelter for their children and loved ones inside the cold walls for many months and years.
There is only one answer from us, which is the same answer we had to Russian invasion in Georgia: we strongly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and illegal annexations of its regions.
Russia must recognize Ukraine’s territorial integrity; must withdraw from the occupied territories; and must respect Ukraine’s independence.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our experience of the invasions of 2008 and the 1990s provides us with at least three lessons:
First, documenting all crimes of the aggression is key in serving justice and curtailing any temptation for others for similar aggression, no matter being part of the Rome Statute or not. Georgia co-authored the application to investigate Russia’s activities in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court. Winning the legal battle matters in the long run.
Second, maintaining unity and solidarity of international community matters until the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and of others similarly violated by Russia, is fully restored. Otherwise, Russia will not stop its military adventurism in its neighborhood and beyond. We voiced our solidarity to Ukraine in all major international organisations, and will continue to do so in future. Georgia also will not allow using Georgia’s territory and financial system to ease the effect of, undermine or avoid the existing international sanctions imposed after February 24.
And third, the international community must insist on upholding the fundamental principles of international law. Violating the principle of territorial integrity by force is unacceptable and may only lead to the undermining of the international order. We have seen that neglect of aggression in the past has generated new tremors in the international system, which are more difficult to deal with now than in their early stages.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Georgia’s support to Ukraine is unconditional and timeless. We stand by the Ukrainian people, despite the fact that Georgia itself is under the existential threat as our own historic regions have been long occupied by Russia. We will not swerve from this commitment in the name of both Georgian and Ukrainian peoples.
I wish Ukraine strength and victory in this epic fight for freedom and independence. Georgian people and government will always be with you.
SHALVA PAPUASHVILI: THE PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATIONS WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO YET AGAIN SHOW THEIR SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE
"The Parliamentary Delegations will have the opportunity to yet again show their support for Ukraine on the International Crimea Platform”, - the Speaker, Shalva Papuashvili, who, attending the First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform in Croatia along with the Parliamentary Delegation, stated.
According to the Speaker, Georgia is well aware of what Russian aggression means and how important it is to respond appropriately from the international community.
"As for our delegation and my speech, based on the experience of Georgia, we will focus on the meaning of Russian aggression, possible improper response of the international community at the time, and the correct response to Russian aggression. We are a country that has experienced Russian aggression several times and we know very well what the right reaction should be. Based on our experience, we will dwell on what solidarity with Ukraine should mean”, - Shalva Papuashvili stated.
The Speaker is expected to address the participants of the session of the First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform.
43 delegations of 32 parliaments, 5 international parliamentary organizations and 26 parliament chairpersons are participating in the Platform.
As part of the visit, bilateral meetings of the Speaker and the Parliamentary Delegation are also scheduled.
The Parliamentary Delegation of Georgia is composed of the Vice Speaker, Archil Talakvadze and the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Nikoloz Samkharadze.
ADDRESS OF THE SPEAKER, SHALVA PAPUASHVILI TO THE PACE PRESIDENT, TINY KOX
The Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Shalva Papuashvili, wrote a letter to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Martinus Tiny Kox, stating that the inclusion of Mikheil Saakashvili in the amendment to the Resolution changes the essence and spirit of the Resolution and undermines the fundamental values of PACE and the credibility of the organisation in upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law across Europe. "News Day Georgia" offers this statement in full:
To the PACE President, Tiny Kox
A long-standing partnership of the Parliament of Georgia with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe allows me to address you with regards to Resolution 2463 (2022): “Further escalation in the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, debated under the urgent procedure of the fourth part of the ordinary session. Despite our full solidarity to Ukraine in the face of the Russian aggression, approval of the following amendment has prevented the members of the Georgian Delegation from supporting the Resolution: “the Assembly calls on the Russian authority for the immediate release of Vladimir Kara-Murza. The Assembly also calls for a review of cases of other political prisoners opposed to Putin in the Russian Federation and other countries, and for their release (including Mikheil Saakashvili – a Ukrainian citizen and former President of Georgia)”.
We believe that the inclusion of Mikheil Saakashvili in this amendment (a) changes the essence and spirit of the Resolution, and (b) undermines the fundamental values of PACE and the credibility of organization in upholding human rights, democracy and rules of law across Europe. The European Court of Human Rights issued over 100 judgements during Mr. Saakashvili’s rule, including 13 cases on Article 2 (right to life), 34 cases on Article 3 (prohibition of torture), 15 cases on Article 5 (right to liberty and security), and 44 cases on Article 6 (right to a fair trial). Moreover, the Court underlined in its Alexander Girgvliani murder case (Enukidze and Girgvliani v. Georgia) that Mr. Saakashvili hindered an effective investigation and appropriate punishment.
The Report on Human Rights Development in Georgia in 2004-2012 made by Mr. Thomas Hammamberg, former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU Special Adviser on Constitutional and Legal Reform and Human Rights in Georgia in 2013 is a testament to systemic violations of the Convention-related rights during Saakashvili’s presidency. It identifies an alarming situation in areas of judiciary, penitentiary, law enforcement, rights of minorities, rights to take part in public affairs, freedom of expression, assembly and association, and social justice. Mr. Saakashvili has been convicted in Georgia in two criminal cases (the one on the above-mentioned Girgvliani case and the other on organizing an attack against opposition MP Valeri Gelashvili).
Three other criminal cases are pending (on the exceeding and abusing of official powers during the breaking up of anti-government protests on November 7, 2007, and the subsequence seizure of Imedi TV, an independent television broadcaster; on embezzlement of funds from the State Protection Service for personal use; and on illegal crossing of the Georgian state border). The ECHR refused to accept Mr. Saakashvili’s case regarding his treatment by Georgia’s penitentiary system. ECHR has found there were no “special circumstances” in the application relating to respect for human rights, which would have required the body to continue the examination of the case.
The decision of the European Court has once again confirmed that the rights and interests of Mikheil Saakashvili were fully protected in the penitentiary system per the standards of the ECHR. Georgia has both a clear track record of protecting human rights, democracy and rule of law since 2012 and closely cooperating with the ECHR in implementing its judgements. Georgian cases to the ECHR dropped 5,5 times in 2013-2021 compared to Mr. Saakashvili’s rule in 2004-2012, owing to the progress in credibility, independence and professionalism of the Georgian courts.
This progress has been duly reflected in the Resolution 2438 “The honoring of obligations and commitments by Georgia” adopted by the Assembly during the second part of the 2022 ordinary session. Having this in mind, we believe there is no evidence of political motivations in the charges against Mr. Saakashvili other than politically-driven speculations. Therefore, the adoption of language as in amendment 4 represents an unsubstantiated challenge for the Georgian legal system, invites unjustified suspicion against our country in international fora and undermines Georgia’s reform progress in human rights and the rule of law since 2012.
More importantly, the unfounded provisions on Mr. Saakshvili jeopardize the credibility of PACE within the wider Georgian public and erode our efforts to solidify support for the ambitious reform agenda aligned with recommendations of the relevant PACE resolutions.
We remain hopeful that PACE members will in future be guided only by the best interests of the organization and its fundamental values. We stand ready to provide detailed insight on any issue of your interest about Georgia. Please, accept, Mr. President, the assurances of my highest consideration and esteem.
The Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia